Fostering children can be a very rewarding experience.
And for one woman, it has become a huge part of her life.
In 2017, Katie Holstein of Kentucky decided that she was ready to be a mom.
She writes in an article that she did for Love What Matters, “I started the process to become licensed as a foster parent in January of 2017. I wanted to be a mom, and I was tired of waiting around for Mr. Right to make it happen. I figured I would foster for several years, help reunite some families, and maybe eventually get to say yes to forever.”
After 8 months of anticipation, Katie was finally approved to be a foster parent.
And she didn’t have to wait long to receive her first child–or should I say, children.
The same day that she was approved, she found out there was a sibling set in need of foster care.
“Overnight, I became a first-time mom to a newborn, 1-year-old, and 2-year-old. It was terrifying and also everything I imagined it would be and more.”
Over the next three years, Katie fostered 16 children and ended up adopting one of them–Thomas “Tiny” Holstein.
It was no easy road to make the adoption happen, but over a year after receiving little Tiny in her home, Katie was finally able to adopt him as her son.
But Katie’s story doesn’t end here.
Because while she was fostering Tiny, another girl came into her home.
“I got the call on March 9, 2019, from my favorite social worker. She said, ‘I know you don’t do teens, but I have this girl. She’s great, her and her current foster family just need a break. What about just for the weekend?'”
That’s when Katie met Akyra, or Okra, as she calls her.
The other foster kids loved her and Katie loved her as well.
But since she had such a full house at the time–Tiny, plus 4 other foster kids, all under 5-years-old, she wasn’t ready to take on another full-time foster child.
Okra would stay for a week here and there for the next year as she bounced around foster homes.
Finally, after almost a year of knowing Okra, Katie decided to foster her for real.
Okra was 16 at this point and just wanted to live with Katie until she could age out of the system at 18.
She had no desire to be adopted… at first.
Katie writes, “The plan became for her to stay with me until she graduated in about a year and then go into independent living, which is an amazing program our state runs. It allows teens who are going to age out to choose to recommit themselves to the cabinet until they’re 22. They get set up with housing, a stipend, mentors, help with jobs, school, etc. Basically, it allows them to have a slow, guided transition into adulthood instead of being expected to fend for themselves at 18.”
As time went on, however, Katie and Okra became even closer, and one day, Okra asked Katie if she ever thought about adopting a teen.
At that point, Katie knew what she wanted to do.
So just three days before Okra turned 17, Katie adopted her for good.
Katie leaves us with this final thought, “If our story does anything, I hope it inspires more people to open their homes to fostering. You don’t need to have it all together. God knows I didn’t. If I had waited for the ‘right time,’ I would have missed my kiddos. I promise you, there are children in your community right now who need a safe place to land and they’re not going to care you’re on a budget, have a small house, aren’t married, or are still trying to figure this whole parenting thing out. They need willing families, not perfect ones.”
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